How to Improve Company Culture With 5 Simple Questions

If you want to find out how to improve company culture, ask your employees a few key questions to see what changes they are looking for.

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Culture, as it applies to the workplace, is about much more than free snacks and dress codes. The organizational culture of a company is largely shaped by the mindset and attitudes of each person in the business. It follows then, that to build a strong company culture, it’s crucial to take stock of what’s going on inside the heads of your employees. 

Here are 5 simple questions you can ask them to find out how to improve company culture.

1. What aspects of your job bring you joy?

Staunch advocates of the happiness advantage say that happy people burn the brightest and are the most productive. Learn what brings joy to the people in your company. Those answers will help you improve the company culture and  your bottom line.

Asking this question brings the focus to employee satisfaction. When employees are asked to zero in on the most positive parts of their roles, the exercise can help uncover new processes and practices that support employee growth and achievement of their goals. This practice can help increase both employee engagement and satisfaction. Ultimately, employee satisfaction leads to customer satisfaction. All of this adds up to a foundation in your company culture of positivity and happiness. Not to mention, having happy employees also typically means stronger employee retention rates.

2. How have you experienced the values of our company this week?

Values, in a business context, are defined as important and lasting beliefs or ideas shared by members of a culture about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable. Asking about company values keeps them top of mind for everyone and contributes to a great company culture. 

We should note that it’s important to ask these questions on a regular basis. In this case, it subliminally forces employees to recognize how values are demonstrated through internal decisions and interactions with clients. 

This practice of value recognition can also act as the guiding force behind employee actions and conduct. One example might be that transparency is a core value in your workplace culture. Asking this question can uncover how transparency is being experienced and recognized by employees. Perhaps it comes through team-wide announcements or meetings acknowledging wins along with failures. 

If employees understand how important transparency is, they feel encouraged to be open and honest with their superiors and their own colleagues. Having your team take note of values is the best way to have a positive impact and also to cement a better organizational culture.

3. What process can be fixed or improved?

Processes are meant to make things run consistently and smoothly, and your team is the front line of these processes. They can tell you the good, the bad and the ugly about the processes running your business.

Generally, employees feel more valued when asked for their input about the employee experience. Even if something isn’t broken, that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Adopting an attitude of continuous innovation and improvement instills critical thinking in your team. Recognizing your team has valuable input can help them feel connected and highly engaged, and lead them to take stronger ownership in the success of the company.

Recognizing your team has valuable input can help them feel connected and highly engaged, and lead them to take stronger ownership in the success of the company.

Adam Bryant, a columnist for The New York Times, wrote in 2013 about a culture hackathon that tasked employees with tackling a project, big or small, to improve the company.  (And to complete it in 24 hours!) One team created an app to organize team coffee and lunch runs. Another took a run at improving expense reporting. This type of exercise remains relevant and valuable. It allows your employees to speak up about processes, empowers them and keeps them constantly thinking of ways to make the work environment better for everyone.

4. When do you feel the most motivated?

Another important aspect of company culture is creating a highly motivating environment or reward system for your team. This question allows employers to take a peek inside what works for incentivizing their team. It can help employers learn how to recognize employees for individual contributions. One person might say “I feel most motivated after a refreshing lunch break.” Another might say “when I know the deadline is close.” That gives an employer some very specific actions to consider. Broader answers – such as “when I know there is a bonus or commission” or “when my work is recognized” — can showcase core motivations where money and prestige are needed to push employees to work their hardest. Others may desire more professional development opportunities and other ways they’d like to see you provide employee recognition.

What gets one person moving will leave another cold. You need to know what motivates your people as individuals in your day-to-day operations. Then, create opportunities in your company culture that is flexible to accommodate these unique needs. Instilling a culture that places value in recognizing employees contributes to a positive workplace environment.

Human resources can be particularly instrumental in facilitating ways to motivate people and strengthening their commitment to company goals.

5. How do you tell your family and friends about our company and what we do?

The drill with small talk usually includes the following question: So, what do you do for a living?

Highly engaged employees will be eager to answer this question, along with sharing your company’s values. It’s a good sign of a healthy corporate culture when all your employees share a consistent story. It’s more likely that you’ll receive a variety of answers, and that can give you useful information.

That variety indicates weaknesses in your company’s narrative and where you need to place emphasis when making changes to develop a more positive workplace culture.

According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, culture is directly related to its narrative. So, to spot areas for improvement, start by finding out how your employees describe the company and culture to their friends and family members. This exercise can highlight how to improve company culture, along with undercovering other important factors — for instance whether or not you even have engaged employees.

A strong company culture helps employees feel connected and highly engaged.

Ask the experts, your people, how to improve company culture

These 5 questions may not seem like much, but they could make all the difference in shaping your business. Check in regularly with employees about your current company culture. Their feedback can be a goldmine. In the end, you’ll strengthen your company’s values while simultaneously improving your company’s culture.

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